Rule of Law for All Curriculum

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Rule of law is a founding principle of the United States and a bedrock of democracy. It ensures that no one is above the law, that laws are publicly and widely known, that laws apply equally to all and are equally enforced, and that disputes are settled by an independent judiciary. This textbook definition is in contrast with many Americans’ lived experiences. For some people in the United States, particularly the most marginalized, rule of law has always been in crisis.

Though the term “rule of law” may rarely be mentioned in state standards, its concepts are embedded in many social studies courses. Fundamental rights, limiting and balancing government power, and an open and transparent government are just a few of these concepts.

This curriculum includes the following lessons:

  1. Introduction to Rule of Law
  2. Controlling Corruption and Abuse of Power
  3. Open and Transparent Government
  4. Fair and Effective Court System
  5. Fundamental Rights
  6. Peace and Stability
  7. Limiting and Balancing Government Power
  8. Culminating Activity: Addressing a Rule of Law Challenge in My Community

The seven core lessons and 28 extensions have been designed with middle and high school social studies teachers in mind, for courses ranging from U.S. history to civics and law to global studies.

Like all Street Law resources, these materials have been designed to prioritize student-centered pedagogy, where much of the cognitive load of the lesson is on students. In particular, these rule of law lessons place rule of law concepts in the context of students’ lived experiences and identities, along with the lived experiences and identities of others.

By participating in these lessons, students should be able to:

  • increase their understanding of rule of law concepts and their relation to the health of U.S. democracy,

  • analyze strengths and weaknesses of rule of law in the United States,

  • describe how rule of law may be experienced differently by individuals from different backgrounds, and

  • improve civic skills and attitudes.

© 2022 Street Law, Inc.

This curriculum was developed as part of Street Law’s Rule of Law for All project, generously funded by the 2021 Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics Award granted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

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